A short ‘real wine’ route: Saint-Emilion

Article from 23-06-2006

When talking about natural or ‘real’ wines, a badge we’re allowed to pin on “organic,” “biodynamic,” or “culture raisonnée” (environmentally friendly) winegrowing... Bordeaux’s vineyards aren’t the first thing that come to mind, but other regions and enquiring minds. To give a (too) few examples: Richaud in the Côtes-du-Rhône, Pithon in the Loire Valley, Overnoy in the Jura...

Yet there’s no good reason why Bordeaux shouldn’t fly the flag, with many exciting achievements not conforming to so-called international winemaking standards.

So may we suggest a discovery tour around Saint-Emilion? Six properties that make a refreshing change in just over fifty kilometres.

In Saint-Emilion, our first visit’s to Château Belair (Saint-Emilion premier grand cru classé or ranked as a ‘first great growth’) where Pascal Delbeck practises eco-dynamism (click here for definition) on his 12 ha.

Château Belair 33330 Saint-Emilion + 33 (0)5 57 24 70 94

Another well known stop off is Château La Tour Figeac (Saint-émilion grand cru or ‘great growth/site’). The vineyard is located in Saint-Emilion’s ‘Graves’ district (more gravely soils), between Château Cheval Blanc and the Pomerol appellation. Otto M. Rettenmaier’s vineyard is farmed bio-dynamically.

Château La Tour Figeac 33330 Saint-Emilion + 33 (0)5 57 51 77 62

Head in the direction of the Côtes-de-Francs appellation. The Amoreau family has been tending their vineyard in Saint-Cibard for 15 generations (1610). 25 ha of old vines farmed bio-dynamically. "We’re only here to hold the wine’s hand yet we want to be its master" as Jean-Pierre Amoreau likes to say.
Certain wines don’t contain sulphur (such as the Barthélémy cuvée).

Château le Puy 33570 Saint-Cibard + 33 (0)5 57 51 24 28

In Belvès-de-Castillon in the Côtes-de-Castillon appellation, former owner of Château Pavie Thierry Valette is working on modern wines with consultant Stéphane Derenoncourt.

Clos Puy Arnaud, 33350 Belvès-de-Castillon, 05-57-47-90-33.


Head west again. At Château Barrail des Graves in Saint-Sulpice de Faleyrens, a 13 ha vineyard, you’ll perhaps be lucky enough to meet the boss Gérard Descrambe. The cartoonists at Charlie-Hebdo (local weekly) are fond of designing his wines’ labels (AOC saint-émilion).

Château Barrail Des Graves (AOC saint-émilion)
Port de Branne 33330 Saint-Sulpice de Faleyrens + 33 (0)5 57 74 94 77

Let’s finish this all too brief trail on the Pomerol plateau with Château Gombaude-Guillot’s eight registered organic hectares; Claire Laval’s the winemaker.

Château Gombaude-Guillot
4, chemin les Grand-Vignes 33500 Pomerol +33 (0)5 57 61 17 41

We strongly suggest arranging visits in advance.

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